Thursday, June 7, 2012

SHTF Retreat - Some Considerations

A great number of preppes have come to the sound realization that in a true SHTF situation, where government and society ave completely broken down, the lone wolf will soon be overtaken. This is where groups come into play. But simply having a network of prepper friends from the internet spread out along considerable distances just won't cut it. Enter the SHTF retreat. Sounds simple enough doesn't it? A predetermined number of families meet at a predetermined spot and begin building a community by performing a set of predetermined tasks. Well, perhaps not all that simple. Here are just a few things that will have to be looked at first.

1 - Land.
Where will you meet? One members vast and rural farm? Perhaps a plot of public land? To be sure, a decent amount of acreage will be needed. Certain characteristics will have to be met such as bodies of water for drinking, fishing, livestock etc. Let's not forget that you will need a fair sized woodlot with mixed trees for building and firewood, not to mention other desirables such as maple trees for syrup making. Oh, and while we're at it, let's not forget about open land for gardening, grain crops for human as well as animal consumption, grazing, the list goes on. Not to mention the fact that it must be reachable by every member of your group with one tank of gas!

2 - People.
Not as simple as you might think. Simply gathering a group from websites and forums can lead to difficult personality conflicts. Also, you don't want to end up with a group of forty guys who all know seven ways to start a fire without a match but can't put together a simple shelter or cook palatable food from storage goods. Diversity is key. Builders, farmers, hunters, security specialists, medics, etc. will be needed. For those areas that are fully manned, some members will have to be willing to try other skills to fill in gaps.

3 - Food.
During a bug out situation, how much food could you realistically take with you? A weeks, a months, a years? Even with members bringing in small livestock and ample heirloom seeds, it could be well over a year before the group is self sustaining. If the poop were to hit the propeller in mid July, it would be too late to get any agriculture going for that season, forcing you to wait until the following May to plant seeds and in to September before the harvest was in full swing.
Sure, WROL, a group can always hunt and fish to get meat, but a meat only diet is likely to have dire health consequences. It would stand to reason then that every member would deposit a just amount of food in advance, which raises issues of storage facilities, pest control, and theft deterents until needed.

4 - Housing.
If bugging out to your retreat in January, will you be able to survive the elements? You may not be able to build permanent structures until spring. Of course, some members may arrive with mobile homes, or at least tent trailers, but perhaps something ready to use is needed. Would you build a series of smaller shelters to house members, or perhaps a larger structure designed more like a barracks would be a better idea. Of course, these structures could be put to use for storage until needed, but that again raises the issue of security. Someone will have to be checking in the retreat on a very regular basis, perhaps even living there full time.

5 - Energy
It is my opinion that such a retreat group would need certain electrical devices to survive well. Refrigeration would be a must during the warmer months as well as battery charging for radios, lights, etc. Mind you, not a great amount of energy would be required. A couple of deep freezers and a fridge or two would probably suffice, along with the usual AA cells to power small objects. Solar, wind or micro hydro are all options here as well as woodgas for generators. All the materials as well as the people with the ability to assemble and run them have to be carefully planed out in advance. Do you deposit these items in advance or rely on members to bring them when the time comes? Remember, having a solar setup for your own use is expensive enough let alone investing in another to sit in wait at a remote location. Also to keep in mind, members trusted with bringing key equipment, may not show up at all for any number of reasons.

These are only a few major points to consider when planning a retreat group. I am sure that if you sit down and give it some thought, the issues involved would astound you, perhaps even keep some of us awake at night wondering if it's even possible. Try starting a list of equipment you would need to keep even the smallest group self reliant for an indeterminate amount of time. Then start thinking of the manpower needed to pull it off. Remember, as manpower increases so does the strain on supplies. Is there a tipping point where thee are simply too many people to maintain? What is the minimum number of people needed to perform all the tasks required?

It's a lot to think about eh?


  1. Something my hubby read this morning... and isn't he pleased with himself. lol

    Bug out Boat!


  2. Great article, all very good points...
    Have you figured the answers yet? ;-)

    RE the boat suggested in the comment above... I'm just wondering how useful it will be during the winter, when the water body it's sailing on gets frozen...

  3. Food, Housing and Energy are the basic requirements for survival.

  4. It is my opinion that such a retreat group would need certain electrical devices to survive well. Refrigeration would be a must during the warmer months.

    your still clinging to a grid, that is gone. forget batteries, spending time trying to secure meat?? beans, grains. gardens and storage is where im going. not alot of doc's to cure food poisoning, antibiotics, meat storage complex issues im guessing. no one has ever died from lack of protein sources, look it up and diversify.

  5. Actually, I think the bug-out boat is a very smart idea! In the winter it would be up on a slip, where it could be used as a heated caban while ice fishing and hunting.

    I live almost off grid with my family in Atlantic Canada. We have a wood stove for heat, solar for Electric, a cistern pump on our well, but we still rely heavily on gasoline! Because of our location it's hard to get around without it! But not impossible. We don't have a fridge but if we could produce enough electricity to run one, it sure would be a huge time saver! Which is really hard to find when you are off grid!! Time, that is.

  6. Hi, I live almost off grid with my fam in Atlantic Canada. We still rely heavily on gasoline, although, not impossible to live without it. Or should I say, survive without it. It is my opinion that there is a world of difference between living and surviving! It is also my opinion that those who are living completely off grid, completely self sustaining, will continue to do so when shtf. But those who are not completely self sustaining, will be forced into survival mode.

    There are some very good points here! I especially like the bug-out boat idea! It would make a nice heated camp while ice fishing or hunting!

    Living off grid is not easy! Very rewarding, but not easy! Shtf would affect us in a big way!! How much more those who are completely dependant! We should all work towards self reliance! Knowledge is NOT power! IF ALL YOU GOT IS A KNOW IT ALL APPROACH TO OFF GRID LIVING WITHOUT REAL EXPERIENCE, THEN IN MI OPINION, YOU MAY AS WELL BE ON THE TOP FLOOR OF A HIGH RISE WATCHING MUSHROOM CLOUDS! :)

    there's no end to prepping! Here's my three rules:

    1- tell friends we are prepping. (I will need them just as much as they need me!)

    2- if I need it, stock pile it!

    3- if I suck at it, practice it!

    Feedback always welcome, be glad to help if I can.

  7. Re: meat and lack of protein
    Sure, you can LIVE without protein, but you will not be able to SURVIVE in SHTF without it. Protein has a major role to play in building muscle, and you will need decent muscle to grow all that garden food you plan on having. Have you done intensive gardening before? Like the kind that could sustain you, not only for a few months in the summer, fall and early winter, but through the late winter and spring (which people used to call the "starvation" time, for good reason). It is not for the faint of heart. Besides that, animal protein provides a lot more calories by the pound than most vegetables. You will need ENERGY to survive SHTF.

    Native populations in the great plains survived as well as they did BECAUSE they had a source of meat. They simply could not have gathered enough vegetable matter to meet their needs through the winter alone. Specifically, the buffalo was perhaps THE most important source. They didn't refrigerate their meat, of course. They DRIED and SMOKED it. Those are low-tech storage options that WILL still be available in a post-SHTF environment, and which are quite safe if you know the technique. NOW would be the time to learn the technique, rather than disdaining ALL meat for some misguided philosophical reason (because philosophy will be the LEAST of your concerns when you're starving).